Lawsuit filed in boulder death

A complaint was filed against the Nevada Department of Transportation for alleged inadequate maintenance of Highway 50 that resulted in a boulder falling in front of a vehicle which resulted in the driver's death.

The complaint, filed in August in the District Court in Minden, alleges lax treatment to fix loose sand caused by snowplows and passing trucks. The loose sand reportedly facilitated the boulder's 21-foot fall on Jan. 3 near Logan Shoals vista point.

Nicholas Ponce, a 49-year-old meatcutter who lived in Sparks but worked at Albertsons in South Lake Tahoe, was killed when his Toyota Corolla smashed into the boulder.

Reno attorney Christopher Phipps, who submitted the wrongful death and emotional distress complaint, is seeking $100,000 for Ponce's two teenage daughters. A maximum of $50,000 per suit can be filed against a government agency in Nevada, Phipps said.

"We think NDOT was aware of this condition and believe they should take proper steps to properly maintain the highway as to prevent boulders from coming down," Phipps said.

An NDOT spokesman referred questions to the attorney general. Sam Coon, in the transportation division of the attorney general's office in Carson City, said information is still being collected.

"It's a little premature for me to make statements on how it happened," Coon said.

A court date is pending.


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